RF633 at Fort Halstead

Sevenoaks Running Day

Sunday May 17th 2015

Prepared by Ian Smith, 28th May 2015.

403 with RT3148

403: Sevenoaks to Westerham: RT3148 and RTL554

I joined John Huxford on RT3148, and we rolled round the block to visit the loading stands in the bus station. The sound of a Leyland O600 engine behind was a surprise. It was RTL554, in immaculate condition. I had last seen this MCCW-bodied Leyland up in Yorkshire, where it was in the care of Iain Macbeth. Now it was coming with us to Westerham, for its crew to learn the 403 road.

We loaded up, and threaded our way out of the bus station behind RF633, which was heading north on the 402 to Dunton Green. We forked left at the War Memorial, diving down into the glorious green tunnel formed by the flowering chestnuts of St.Botolph's Road.

RTL554 at Sevenoaks St.Botolph's Road, Sevenoaks

We passed Sevenoaks Station, and headed for Riverhead. As we dropped down towards the A25 junction we met RF471 toiling towards Sevenoaks, returning from Dunton Green. We turned left, and headed out through Bessels Green. The RTL tagged along behind.

St.Botolph's Road, Sevenoaks RTL554 at Sevenoaks

We passed through Sundridge, with its magnificent chestnut in full flower, and went on through Brasted and along to Westerham - an excellent run. We pulled up at The Kings Arms, where the passengers were asked to alight while the bus went for its turning manoeuvre on the Croydon Road.

Sundridge RT3148 at Westerham

We went along to the Croydon Road, and a little way up, to where a side road offered a place to turn - not quite in one sweep. We then paused while the RTL made its turn, and then reset the blinds for the trip to Tonbridge Station.

RTL554 at Westerham RT3148 at Westerham, Croydon Road

403: Westerham to Tonbridge Station : RT3148

We loaded up at The George & Dragon in Westerham, and headed east along the A25, a lovely rural road now that it has lost its trunk traffic to the parallel M25.

We turned south on the old A21 at Riverhead, and followed the undulating road along to Sevenoaks Station. On the way we met RF633, heading for Fort Halstead on a 431D, and then RT1798 heading for Westerham. We climbed the hill again, up to the War Memorial, and wended our way along to the Bus Station. There we met RT604, set up for a 402 to Green Street Green.

RF633 on 431D at Riverhead RT604 at Sevenoaks

After a few minutes at the Sevenoaks bus station we continued. RTL544 left the bus station ahead of us, but was going to park. We turned left, past RF406 and Camden Coaches' AEC Reliance 900 SAF, used on the 68 to Plaxtol.

RTL554 at Sevenoaks Camden 900 SAF at Sevenoaks

This time we turned south, through Sevenoaks. RT3183 came the other way, from Tonbridge on a through working to Westerham. We threaded our way out of town, and started the steady descent of River Hill. We met RT1700 toiling up, having visited Weald on the 454.

RT3183 on 403, Sevenoaks RT1700 on 454, River Hill

We passed the roundabout at the foot of River Hill, and rolled through onto the long straight down through Hildenborough to Tonbridge. John says that this long continuous descent is really hard on the brakes. Partway down we met XF3 heading up the hill, but I mistimed the photo. Then it was round by Tonbridge Church. As the bus now has a new vinyl ad for Green Rovers on the nearside I had demanded a Green Rover ticket - and got one! Now I had to ask for a supplementary fare for the last stretch into Tonbridge, where Green Rovers were not valid!

Traffic was light on Tonbridge main street, down to the Medway Bridge and up over the railway. We turned at the roundabout and came back to stop at the correct stop just before Tonbridge Station entrance.

403: Tonbridge Station to Sevenoaks: RT3148

We set off again, towards Sevenoaks, up through Tonbridge, past the Castle, up the main street and forked left for Hildenborough. Now it was a long drag uphill. We met RML2750, scurrying down, by the Underiver turnoff.

RT3148 on 403, Tonbridge Stn RML2750, River Hill

We rounded the big roundabout over A21 at the foot of River Hill, and slogged up the long steep hill.' As the gradient eased we passed The White Hart, terminal point for some of the 402 workings, and promptly met RF633 on such a working. A shame that I fluffed the shot.

RT3148 on 403, Tonbridge Stn RF633, Tonbridge Road

We worked our way in through Sevenoaks to the bus station, unloaded, and parked the bus. Now we had time at leisure to take a look at RTL554.

RTL554, Sevenoaks RTL554, RT1798, Sevenoaks

Part Four: ..and now for something different..

Ian's Bus-stop One Two Three Four Five Six